The Week In Scotland – The House Move Edition
League Cup Shocks A Plenty!
With the Scottish Communities League Cup Third Round being played over three nights, it meant we were treated to some extra football this week! There were a lot of shocks with a lot of lower league opposition defeating their SPL counterparts.
Perhaps the biggest shock were last year’s winners Kilmarnock losing 2-1 at home to Second Division part-timers Stenhousemuir. Other SPL teams to fall at the first hurdle were Dundee (who lost 2-1 away to Third Division Queen’s Park) surprise outfit Hibs (2-0 loss away to Queen of the South) and Ross County (thumped 4-1 at home to Raith Rovers). In fact, only two SPL teams actually won their games.
St Mirren thumped Ayr 5-1 and gained revenge on The Honest Men after they put the Saints out of the competition last season at the quarter final stage, while Inverness CT (the SPL team most expected to lose) won 2-0 away at Arbroath. Rangers put out higher league opposition also, with a 3-0 win at home to First Division Falkirk.
Celtic completed their Champions League qualification as expected with an industrious 2-0 victory over Helsingborgs at Celtic Park, meaning they went through 4-0 on aggregate. Gary Hooper scored the first goal after 30 minutes (although clearly a yard offside) and Victor Wanyama’s 88th minute goal sealed the deal for Scotland’s only representatives in European football now. Celtic were drawn in Group G of the Champions League with Barcelona, Benfica, and Spartak Moscow. Personally, I’d expect to see Barcelona and Spartak in the top two places, with Celtic taking third place and Europa League football after Christmas, but I hope they prove me wrong!
Motherwell lost as expected to La Liga outfit Levante, a 1-0 loss in Spain completing a 3-0 loss on aggrerate. Motherwell played a lot better, and I daresay they had the best of the game, but Levante never quite gave it 100% and made sure they got through without too much effort.
Hearts almost did it against Liverpool! After an unlucky 1-0 loss in the first leg at Tynecastle, Hearts were expected to lose without putting up any fight at Anfield, however they grabbed a creditable 1-1 draw and although they went out 2-1, the Edinburgh side impressed many a neutral observer. While they rode their luck in the first half (Borini in particular missing a couple of sitters), they kept Liverpool honest and actually took the lead in the second half through David Templeton’s shot being spilled into the back of the net by Pepe Reina with only five minutes left in normal time! However, Luis Suarez scored three minutes later to break Hearts (see what I did there) and send the English team through to the group stages.
Inverness and Arsenal Link Up
The SPL team agreed to form a partnership with the London giants in a deal that can only help both parties.
Caley Thistle could be doing with better quality in every department, and Arsenal are looking to send their more talented youngsters up to Inverness to get valuable first-team experience. With Arsene Wenger’s track record of bringing through top quality from the youth ranks, we might just see some superstars of the future in action at the Caledonian Stadium.
Ross County Paying For Fan’s Travel…Again
Ross County have announced that they will provide free supporters buses for their fans travelling to the match away to Dundee United on Friday the 14th of September. The match was moved to the Friday night to avoid a clash of fixtures where the two Dundee sides would both have been playing at home on Saturday the 15th. With the distance involved making it not only difficult but also costly for Staggies fans to make it to Tannadice for the 19:45 kick off, the club made the gesture to help the fans get to the game. County’s chairman Roy MacGregor stated:
“The change of fixture was outwith our control on this occasion, and whilst it always takes a special commitment from our supporters to travel to away matches because of the distance involved this makes it even more difficult for them. Therefore I felt it was right that we acknowledge their support by giving something back and this seemed the best way to achieve that.”
Ross County Still Undefeated
While we’re in Dingwall, it’s worth mentioning that the team are still unbeaten in league football with a run stretching over one year and 39 league games. Outstanding achievement.
Wonder if they’ll make it 40?
Sasa Papac Retires
Ex-Rangers left back Sasa Papac has retired from professional football at the age of 32. He left Ibrox in the summer, seemingly in search of one final payday, but he announced his retirement due to ‘health reasons’. Some of you may remember I wrote about Sasa last year where I basically declared my man crush on the Bosnian.
I’m gutted he’s retiring but when you read the article and listen to Sasa, I’m not sure the will to play on was there any more. A well earned retirement awaits you now Sasa.
***Did I miss anything? Got something for me to add in next week? Any comments to either please me or destroy my soul? Post below or find me on Twitter @Manky365***